The first week

The first week, I felt strong, calm, almost at peace with it all.  In retrospect – I think there was so much to focus on with healing and getting back to normal life, that I just rode that wave.  I felt tough.  My husband left that first day for a week-long business trip and I had 4 big client meetings that week.

Now – I don’t do anything for a living that requires me to be there no matter the circumstances.  So one could say – maybe I could have taken time off and missed the client meetings.  But I felt like I could handle it, these meetings had been scheduled for some time, I didn’t want to let my clients down, and no one at my firm really had the information or knowledge to take over from me in most of those meetings.  So early Tuesday morning, I took the train into NYC for a four-hour client meeting.

Then Wednesday – I was supposed to do a recruiting event in NYC at night and then take the train to Philadelphia to for a client meeting on Thursday morning.  I was dreading this, it felt exhausting and overwhelming to me.  Thankfully, one of my partners took over the recruiting event – teaches me that asking for help is a good thing!  And I took an earlier train into Philadelphia so that I could rest more.

Then the plan was to do a 2 hour client meeting in Philadelphia on Thursday, hop a train to NYC for a 3 hour evening meeting in NYC, then hop a train back to Philadelphia for a meeting on Friday.  The meetings in Philadelphia were with the same client – and when they saw me on Thursday – they strongly encouraged me to take the meeting on Friday from home (on the phone).  And my partner was able to do the presentation that day – which was another wonderful reprieve.

So I got some help and also toughed out the week.  My meetings went well and I just felt tough and strong.  And a bit tired.  I was amazed at how well my face was healing – scabs were just falling off.  I was really impressed by how well the body heals.

Derek finally arrived home on Thursday night and I made it to the weekend!

The fall

My last posts were about our trip to Disneyland to run the Dumbo Double Dare – a 10k and half marathon on consecutive days.  We had a blast – I dressed as a fairy with my friend Beth for the 10k.  I didn’t “race” either of those – because they were a week before my goal marathon.  The distances fit into my training plan – so I just ran them at training paces.

Fast forward a week – the big day finally arrives.  My goal marathon – the Lehigh Valley Via Marathon.  Held in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, Pennsylvania.  I had my usual nerves – but really, I felt ready.  I had given this everything I had – I upped my mileage and ran more than I had ever done in my life (most weeks 6 days/week and 700+ miles total over 6 months), I had been disciplined with my diet for the two months preceding and my weight was now at a level that I honestly never thought possible (lost about 6-7 lbs from March).  I was ready – eager, determined, hopeful.

The day dawns – the weather is about as good as it could be for that time of year and the pre-race prep that morning went fine.  We were off – I felt great, strong, confident – even smiled at my friends who were there at the 10k point.  Halfway through I was starting to get more serious as I was having to work a bit more to maintain pace, but I still felt very positive and even smiled at Noel as he too a picture of me.  The course was quite pretty – a pathway alongside the Lehigh River.  It was crowded however, as the pathway was quite narrow in spots (sometimes just tire ruts).

Past mile 19, I did a bit of a body scan – and I could tell that things might get painful in the last 10k (I was starting to feel my right hip flexor among other things).  But I knew that the next mile marker I would see was mile 20 and I felt really confident that, with the way my body felt at that point, that I would make it – I could gut it out, I had the strength and determination, and my body was, overall, in pretty good shape for 19 miles in.

19.6 – all of a sudden, I’m falling and all I know is that I see the ground and rocks coming to meet my face.  I must have tripped on something – I don’t know, I don’t recall anything.  It must have been fast, or I must have been in an awkward position – because I didn’t get my hands out to stop my fall.  I took the fall with my face – and as I rolled over, I knew my BQ was done – gone in an instant.  Blood was gushing all over my face, I was covered in dirt.  I was lucky – I had just passed a race volunteer not 20 feet past – so he was right there and radioing for help.  And I broke into sobs – partly for the pain, but, honestly, more because I knew it was gone – all that effort, all that work, all that determination – none of it mattered, my attempt to qualify was over.

I briefly considered whether I should just get up and keep running.  But I couldn’t breathe through my nose and my mouth was full of blood – so I couldn’t breath well through that either – so no.  A medic came over on a bike – asked me some questions, gave me a towel to try and hold on my nose/mouth to stanch the bleeding and called an EMS team to get me to an ambulance.  Two gators with like 6 or so guys came and got me into the gator and to the nearest ambulance.  I could tell I looked bad by everyone else’s reaction to seeing me – other runners, the medics.  I do recall a couple of runners stopping when I fell – I didn’t see anyone’s faces – but I remember a woman’s voice saying “oh my god, oh my god, are you all right” and I feel like there was another guy standing nearby too.

I had asked the volunteer to call my husband (through the towel and the blood) – but he only got Derek’s voicemail.  It bothered me to think that they wouldn’t know for awhile – that they would be waiting for me at mile 22, expecting to see me – all the while, I was already done and out.

I was taken to St Luke’s Anderson – and they wheeled me right into an emergency room bay.  They tried to clean me up a bit.  The guy was pretty nervous and I don’t think he wanted to push too hard anywhere – so my face really didn’t get all that cleaned up.  They registered me and I must have said that I just wished that my husband were there, or that he knew.  So the very nice guy who was trying to clean me up offered to call Derek again.  When he called – he finally reached Derek – and Derek was walking into the hospital!  So he went to get him.  Derek says that he (and Ron the volunteer who had called him originally) had sort of tried to prepare him for what he would see.

Once Derek arrived – he just held my hand and I just started crying and crying.  We didn’t even say anything for a little bit.  Derek knew how much of myself I had put into this, knew how much this meant to me, and probably had some sense of how devastated I was.  Once I collected myself – I asked him to have Beth, Noel, and Kandi come in – as they had driven with Derek to the hospital – I just wanted to see them and thank them.

Eventually – the doctor gave me two stitches in my left knee – a tiny wound, but deep apparently (and now I know that I must have chipped my patella or something, because there’s an extra bony bump that has grown where that wound was).  He asked me (like all the others had before) if I had blacked out, was I conscious the whole time?  I said I thought I had stayed conscious the whole time – I don’t recall blacking out.  He stared at me, deep in thought, for a few moments.  He asked to see both of my hands.  He was trying to figure out whether to do other tests on me – he said that it was odd that I didn’t get my hands out – putting your hands out is a natural reflex.  He must have decided that he didn’t need to do other tests – as he let it be.

He did send me to get a CT scan – apparently the source of all that blood in my mouth was a deep gash near my jawline inside my mouth.  He said he needed to see if my jaw was fractured – because if it were fractured, then the gash would make it an open fracture and he would need to treat it differently (close it up? put antibiotics in it?).

The nurse came back with the CT scan and said – the good news is, your jaw isn’t fractured; the bad news is, your nose is fractured in three places.   Hey – you win some, you lose some!  I asked her if they found a brain tumor – because I had thought, on my way to the CT scan, that that might be a redeeming silver lining in all of this – if they found a brain tumor that I would never have found otherwise because of this fall.  Nope – no brain tumor.  Although the doctor later shot that theory to bits as he said the CT scan didn’t really cover much of my brain.  Darn, so much for two for one!

I made a bunch of wisecracks to the nurse – she said I was the funniest patient she had had.  I guess, if you can’t cope with it in anyother way, you might as well find some humor in it.  She did finally get to really scrubbing and cleaning my face – so most of the dirt and dried blood came off.

It took until 2pm – but I was finally released.  I hung out with my Peacock running friends back at the hotel that night and then we left for home the next morning.

I’ve put two pictures of myself post-accident below.  If you don’t want to look – don’t scroll down.  There were no pictures of my full post-fall glory, but the first picture is of me shortly after I got back from the hospital and the second is the next morning when we were driving home.

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A new journey

I have been sadly negligent of this blog.  I tried to get motivated to write about some of the things that have happened – but I haven’t had time, and perhaps haven’t always had motivation.  But I have a new direction that I want to take with this blog – I’ll still probably cover fun things and vacations and such – but I want to mostly focus this blog on my journey – hopefully to redemption, but, if not, then at least to peace, understanding, and acceptance.

My friends know that I spent the better part of my spring and summer training for a marathon – training to qualify for the Boston marathon.  It was a dream that I hatched in the spring of 2012.  I made one attempt in January at the Walt Disney World marathon, and was 5 minutes too slow.  This was my next try – September 8th at the Lehigh Valley Via Marathon.

My facebook friends also know that things went badly awry that day.  I fell, was carted off the course, didn’t finish – much less qualify.  I fractured my nose in three places, had a huge deep gash inside my mouth near the jawline, got stitches for a wound in my left knee, and had lacerations all over my face.  So instead of a finisher’s medal, a BQ time, and the right to race in Boston – I got time in the hospital, medical bills I will need to pay, and a tough road to come back from.

I looked a mess – I went to work anyway that Tuesday and the rest of that week.  I didn’t run at all.  At the time, I was desperately holding on to the idea that I could rebound and try again at a marathon in early December.  I so dearly wanted to have all that training count, to take advantage of the great shape I had gotten myself into, and not to have it all taken away.  I needed to believe.  I needed to believe that that freak accident had not just taken all of that away from me.

So I tried – but last Friday, I came to the realization that it wasn’t going to happen, my body wasn’t going to make it.  And I threw in the towel on a December marathon.  I was devastated again – because the full loss finally hit me.  All that training, all that fitness – wouldn’t matter – it won’t last.  More importantly – in the weeks leading into the marathon – I felt like an athlete – strong and athletic.  I have never felt that way in my life – I’ve always felt like the geek, not particularly athletic, not particularly strong or tough.  And I loved it – I loved the way I felt, I loved the way I looked at my new lower weight, I loved being in such great shape.

And now I have doubt and fear and uncertainty.  My calves have been really problematic recently which is what made me stop training – they were too painful to run several days, and I had to realize I wouldn’t be able to do the mileage I needed.  And I have been running at a slower pace since the fall – in my base pace runs, it seemed I was naturally running half a minute a mile slower than I used to naturally run.  And my running didn’t feel comfortable or smooth.

So I have doubt – I don’t know if I will have the courage to toe the line at another marathon. I don’t know if my body will be able to sustain the mileage needed for marathon training without breaking down like it is now.  I don’t know if I’ll ever run as fast – why is my speed so much slower?  Will I ever feel strong and athletic again?

Now – I don’t have a plan.  I don’t know what’s next.  Will I pick another marathon – and when?  I’m out of the country for all of February helping out at the Sochi Olympics – so I’m unsure if I’ll be able to run at all during that period of time (running paths? facilities? will my schedule permit it?).  And if I do zero running for that entire month – I don’t think I could get ready for a late June marathon – it’s 16 weeks, but I would be starting from a base of zero.  It seems tricky to pick a marathon in July/August – because the heat would certainly act against my attempt to qualify.  And if not then – the only option is early September to make the registration deadline for Boston – the only real option I see for that time period is Lehigh Valley – and I am fairly sure that I can’t toe that line as my next marathon, maybe ever.

Which means – maybe I have to give up my Boston goal another year – and try and qualify for Boston 2016.  Which feels so far off – it almost doesn’t seem worth it – hard to think that far off right now.

So I was really down this past weekend.  I’ve started to come around this week.  And I thought that it would help me to share my story – to see where this journey takes me.  Will I try again?  When?  Will I let go of my Boston dream?  Will I regain the runner I used to be?  I don’t know what I’ll do at this point or where I’ll go.

I know myself well enough to know that I’ll probably try again.  I also know that there are a lot of ups and downs to come.  This is my blog, this is my journey.